DATA is an event, a reflective critique on the existing relationship between contemporary art and science and their rapport with digital, electronic and analogical technologies, on the basis of mathematical processes, numbers, logic abstractions and formulae
Sincronie Festival 2009
Teatro Arsenale, Milan (Italy)
15th of December 2009
Talk, videoscreening and concert curated by: Marco Mancuso
Performance: Evelina Domnitch & Dmitri Gelfand
Videoscreening: “Hidden Worlds”
On Tuesday the 15th of December 2009 Digimag presented DATA, the third meeting of the Sincronie Festival 2009. Sincronie is a contemporary and experimental music event that began in 2003. As with the previous editions, this edition was also developed on a theme, which in 2009 was the relationship between music and numbers.
To stay true to the theme dictated by Sincronie 2009, Marco Mancuso has invited two Soviet artists, Evelina Domnitch and Dmitry Gelfand, who talked about their artistic production on the brink between art and science, and will exhibit their live performance 10000 Peacock Feathers in Foaming Acid. The event was centred on their works as pioneers of the creation of sensorial environments where chemistry, physics and philosophy meld together, in relationship with the analysis of human perception of such phenomena.
The event was enriched by the projection of the video screening Hidden Worlds, where a series of audiovisual works have been selected that investigate the relationship between audiovisuals and science. The video screening was dedicated to some examples of artists who work on the rapport between sound and image, through different techniques, that are generated by physical, chemical-physics, mathematical, electromagnetic and nanometric phenomena.
Lecture: The Psychophysics of force field tailoring
by Evelina Domnitch & Dmitri Gelfand
Immersive art-science is a form of creative expression that aims to rise above the notion of art as representation, in favor of multi-sensorial experience. Instead of creating mere objects of aesthetic seduction, it invites audiences to transcend the limits of habitual perception. Immersivity awakens a synesthetic awareness of both physical and mental space.
A myriad of vibratory phenomena, customarily beyond the observer’s reach, are rendered starkly tangible through careful psychophysical conditioning: “the analysis of perceptual processes by studying the effect on a subject’s experience or behavior, of systematically varying the properties of a stimulus along one or more physical dimensions.”
Force field tailoring refers to the efficacious structuring of spatio-temporal characteristics by means of interlocking energy fields. The resultant states of matter/energy can be further harnessed so as to incite specific sensory responses. Psychophysicists are empowered by formerly unimaginable instruments of detection and analysis, providing increasingly higher resolutions of multi-event, multi-dimensional interactions.
Nevertheless, the ephemeral workings of consciousness have barely been punctured, and remain among the leading questions of modern science. It has become evident that despite its exponentially accumulative potential, science alone cannot fulfill this daunting pursuit. Because neuronal processes (like most of the physical world) lie beyond the human spatio-temporal scale, the origins of cognition must be explored through perceptual extension.
The convergence of immersive art and psychophysical research has spawned this extrasensory intimacy and imbued it with limitless evolutionary possibilities.
Performance: 10000 Peacock Feathers in Foaming Acid
by Evelina Domnitch & Dmitri Gelfand
A vacuum or semi-vacuum encased within a gravity and temperature sensitive elastic skin – the scenario of an early universe, a soap bubble, and later, that of a biological membrane. By researching the behavior of soap films, a vast variety of optical, mathematical, thermodynamic and electrochemical discoveries have been made since the time of the Renaissance. One of the earliest means of analogue computing was the soap film calculator (19th century), which tackled geometric problems of minimal surface area. Soap film soft drives are currently being used for blackhole and superstring modeling.
In 10000 Peacock Feathers in Foaming Acid, Domnitch and Gelfand use laser light to scan the surfaces of nucleating and dissipating soap bubble clusters. Unlike ordinary light, the laser’s focused beam is capable of crawling through the micro and nano structures within a bubble’s skin. When aimed at specific angles, this penetrating light generates a large-scale projection of molecular interactions as well as mind-boggling phenomena of non-linear optics. Bubble behaviors viewed in such proximity evoke the dynamics of living cells (the lipid membranes of which, are direct chemical descendants of soap films).
At the Lebedev Physics Institute in Moscow, researchers Y. Stoilov and A. Startsev have recently discovered that a laser beam traversing a soap film can unexpectedly branch out into micron-thin channels (spatial polariton solitons) that neither diverge from their paths nor interfere with one another upon intersection. These optical tracks, which serve as light-confining waveguide antennae, are molded and elongated by the laser emission. Presumably, the laser dielectrophoretically maximizes the membrane’s refractive index to the point of internally focusing the light.
The system behaves like “a powerful optical computer with a gigantic parallel processor, consisting of billions of laser-guiding cells” (Stoilov; Phys.-Usp 47, 2004). In contrast to former soap film explorations by scientists, mathematicians, and artists (the likes of which have included Newton, Chardin, Plateau and Rayleigh to name a few), here, a warped, ‘impossible’ space-time is invented: the laser’s multi-angular paths through numerous bubble surfaces project a dense layering of diverse scales, speeds and vanishing points. The title of the work stems from the Chinese expression, ‘the ten thousand things’, signifying the varifold of cosmic phenomena. Though it may become as thin as a single molecule, all ‘the ten thousand things’ are refracted through the sensitive skin of a soap bubble.